There are 3 types of businesses.
- Businesses that lie to customers.
- Businesses that help customers see the truth.
- Businesses that help customers lie to themselves.
The first one is obvious. Unlike small villages where everyone knows everyone, one would encounter more strangers than family and friends in a city. In order for transactions to happen among strangers, the level of trust must be established first. This is done via law and order with certain level of consumer protection. All businesses are given the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. Nobody likes to be lied to and the trust is gone once they are being found out. One recent example is Nas Daily, who is in a PR war with a Filipino cocoa business. Each side has its version of the story but regardless, Nas lost significant number of fans overnight because some have lost the trust.
The second type of business may last longer (if not dead yet) but may just remain as a mediocre business at best. Humans seek pleasure and avoid pain and most people do not want the truth because it is too harsh. They don’t want to buy a product or service that requires them to eat well and exercise to stay healthy. They don’t want to buy a product or service that requires effort and patience to get wealthy. They already knew the truth so why do they need to pay a business to remind them of the painful truth? They need an escape.
One exception where such business can prosper is when you sell it to top performers. Coaches for Olympic athletes – they need to know how to really improve their performances. They don’t mind the hard work. Whatever it takes. Or it could be executive coaches who help C-suite executives see their flaws and strengths. They want the truth and not sugar coated praises. But a business that helps customers see the truth rarely work for the masses. Salads are harder to sell than fried chicken. And even for salads, you need unhealthy dressings in order to sell them.
The third type of business dominates our society today. They sell placebos. Buy the latest iPhone with the best camera and you will take photo like a pro. Buy a pair of Nike and you can run faster. Subscribe to a gym membership and you will exercise more. Buy a pair of Adidas boots and you can play like Messi. Subscribe to Netflix and you will feel happy. Drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes and you will be even happier. Buy this house and your life will be beautiful. The list goes on.
So if you want to be in business, choose one that helps your customers lie to themselves. You will be more prosperous.